More BSF forces in Meghalaya
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More BSF forces in Meghalaya

A senior BSF official here said the present strength of frontier guards in Tripura and Meghalaya, which are contiguous with Bangladesh, would be "significantly increased".

india Updated: Feb 20, 2003 13:32 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

India will intensify security along the Bangladesh border during Assembly elections in three north-eastern states.

A senior Border Security Force (BSF) official here said the present strength of the frontier guards in Tripura and Meghalaya, which are contiguous with Bangladesh, would be "significantly increased".

Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland in the northeast as well as the northern state of Himachal Pradesh will go to the polls February 26.

"The border in Tripura is considered strategic and needs most careful guarding," the official told IANS, adding that redeployment of BSF personnel from Jammu and Kashmir to the northeastern region has been under consideration for some time now.

Fifty of BSF's 157 battalions are deployed in insurgency-wracked Kashmir.

The authorities are particularly concerned about the international border in Tripura after skirmishes between BSF and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) in April 2001 in this sector left 19 soldiers dead, 16 of them Indians.

There are plans to move 40,000 BSF personnel to the three election-bound northeastern states, which are also plagued by insurgencies.

BSF sources said posting of additional guards along the eastern frontier had become necessary following a heightened threat perception from alleged terrorist camps in Bangladesh.

BSF Deputy Inspector General R.P. Singh said the number of guards deployed along the eastern border was inadequate.

The authorities are hoping to raise 78 new BSF battalions for more effective vigil along the 4,984-km-long frontier with Bangladesh. Five Indian states -- West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Mizoram and Meghalaya -- border Bangladesh.

India has handed over to Dhaka a list of 99 terrorist camps it alleges operate inside Bangladeshi territory. But Dhaka has denied their existence.

Indian intelligence reports have warned that Al-Qaida terrorists could enter this country through the porous Bangladesh border and carry out attacks.

Besides increasing deployment of border guards, BSF authorities have also planned the creation of two new posts of inspector general. The posts are for Malda in West Bengal and Silchar in Assam.

The BSF authorities are yet to decide on the sector-wise break-up of the additional guards to be deployed ahead of elections.

Singh said: "It is impossible to man all the sectors if the border is not fenced and the stretch illumined."

India will finish erecting wire fences along most of its border with Bangladesh by 2007. So far 1,357 km of the border has been fenced. Under the second phase, to be completed over five years, another 2,429.5 km would be covered.

The two sides have disagreements over demarcation of their porous border. Both countries have finalised the terms of reference for two joint working groups that would demarcate 6.1 km of disputed borders and exchange of enclaves in each other's territories.

First Published: Feb 13, 2003 13:14 IST